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Business Impact

Next Up for Amazon’s Mall Takeover: Furniture and Home Appliances

The e-tailer’s bricks-and-mortar vision is starting to resemble its digital approach—try everything once, because you can always shut it down.

Amazon’s new tactic in its bricks-and-mortar push seems to echo its online approach: try a bunch of tactics because at least some of them should end up working.

According to the New York Times, the e-tailer is looking to dramatically expand its current flirtations with physical stores. The newspaper’s sources say that Amazon is considering setting up stores where consumers could use augmented or virtual reality to see how furniture and home appliances might look in their homes.

The Times also reports that Amazon is mulling Apple-style retail outlets for its own consumer electronics—perhaps prompted by the runaway success of its Alexa-powered smart speaker devices.

Those kinds of stores would dramatically widen Amazon’s real-life retail presence, which is currently limited to groceries and books. It would also allow the company to capitalize on large markets where people like to see and feel the products they’re buying, rather than simply looking at them in a Web browser.

Amazon is already testing a food store without checkouts in Seattle, called Amazon Go, and has plans to open two drive-up grocery stores, called AmazonFresh Pickup, in the next few weeks. According to the Times, both will be expanded in the near future.

The newspaper also suggests that Go could make it across the Atlantic to the U.K., and perhaps even India. The latter suggestion isn’t as unlikely as it sounds: Amazon has been pushing hard to make it big in India since it failed to capitalize on opportunities in China.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s real-life book stores are growing in number, too: its fifth just opened in Chicago, and there are five more planned to open this year. We were unconvinced by the experience on our first trip, but Amazon is clearly keen for the concept to flourish.

Many of these projects will likely falter or fold over the coming months. Amazon has a fine track record of enthusiastically launching projects only to can them when they fail to convince people to hand over their hard-earned money—remember the Fire Phone, for instance?

Still, whichever way you cut it, the intention is clear: Amazon thinks that physical stores could help it make more money. And it will keep trying different iterations until it finds the right one.

(Read more: New York Times, “The Jeff Bezos Retail Laboratory—or Seattle, as the Locals Say,” “Amazon’s Next Big Move: Take Over the Mall,” “Amazon’s Grocery Store Doesn’t Have a Single Checkout”)

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